I thought this writing exercise I started a few weeks back was going to be about me changing direction in my life. But, in fact, I have this feeling it’s going to be about me letting go of myself through letting go of my mother. Since I started my newest ‘life adventure’ my mother’s illness has taken a leap into the next phase. And that leap of hers caused an earthquake for her children.
Growing up, my mother was the strongest woman I ever knew. She will always be the strongest woman in the world to me. She is intelligent, has a kind and loving heart, and was able to overcome obstacles as large as Manhattan sized buildings in her life. The things she struggles with are the same things all children of alcoholics struggle with: low self-esteem, difficulty dealing with conflict, openly expressing one’s true feelings, asking for what one needs. That is her story and she would be horrified to know that I was sharing that with ‘the world’. (Mom, I don’t have that many followers.)
I’ve been mad at her for years. Why? I don’t even know right now. But I do know that I’m getting a chance in this life to get over it and find and remember that she is my mommy and I love her – showing her the love that she so deeply deserves at this juncture of her life.
The thing is, of course I know why I’ve been mad at her for years. There are many reasons and in my mind some of them are legitimate and some are not. I’ve been trying to let go of her for years and I see now that my feelings of anger, disappointment, sadness all stood in the way of me loving her completely as an adult so that I could let her go, lovingly, someday.
I wasn’t her teenage daughter that fought tooth and nail with her all those years ago. I wasn’t quite the pleaser. I did hang out with my mom, did what she asked. I was a pain too, but mostly not, falling right in the middle as my birth order suggests. So when we argued as I was raising my own children, I was surprised at this conflict. Now I get a chance to make it right. I get to show my mother the compassion I assumed someone else would show her, one of her other children, anyone else she knows.
I am a lot like her, willful, unbending, strong, control freak. I thought that through those characteristics I could make her better – make her not sick – make her the strongest woman in the world. How does death come to the strongest woman in the world? How can it even dare to approach her?
My sister, who is a wise woman indeed, suggested we midwife her through this part of her life. We midwife her ending, just as any of us would midwife a new life, an new beginning. Lovingly, with compassion. No yelling, no controlling. Just give the time to love, to help, to cherish and to remember how difficult it must be for the strongest woman in the world to lose control of her life.
Yes, everything else before is now just water under the bridge.